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Episode Info:

Using a Countdown for Family Christmas Projects Click here to download the free Christmas Countdown Advent Calendar FROM WENDY: Our Christmas Countdown Tradition We have been doing a Christmas countdown in some form since the oldest kiddos were barely big enough to count all the way to 25. This is one of my favorite Christmas traditions with the kids because of the anticipation it creates, but also because of the ability to incorporate new ideas in with old favorites. There are endless genius, adorable advent calendar creations on Pinterest. Years ago I bought a set of small white favor boxes that I labeled with numbers 1 to 25. I fill each box with Hershey Kisses for each member of the family, and use clothespins to clip to a heavy duty clothesline or strong strand of garland. We used to hang the garland across the mantel of the fireplace, but since we don't have a mantel these days, we currently stack the boxes on a counter in the playroom. Before the 1st of December each year, I plot out the activities that I want to incorporate into our Christmas celebration that year. While early years were more about just having fun together, this year I wanted to shift the focus to activities that focus on kindness, gratitude and reflection. Also, since this is our first year homeschooling, I wanted to use the activities during our morning circle time, so a number of them involve more learning opportunities than activities we've use in prior years. Our Christmas countdown is attached below so you can use it for your family. The cards are all undated so you can tailor it to your family's schedule, and there are a few more than 25 so you can choose the ones that fit you best. When planning, I always look ahead on the calendar to feel out what days will work best for each activity. I also don't make up days if we start late or happen to miss one. Sometimes this means we miss out on something fun. But I would so much rather miss out than turn what was supposed to be fun into a pressure-filled to do list! My hope is that we can inspire an atmosphere of celebration and gratitude, and enjoy one another and the season. Here's what we are doing this year: Sharing with others 

  • Take freshly baked cookies to neighbors
  • Make a Thank You basket - put a basket with thank you cards in a central location. Think of ways to express gratitude to friends and family, and spend time writing messages of thanks.
  • Make cards for hospitalized children or seniors in a local nursing home.
  • Make a "gifts we have" list - in a prominent place in the house, brainstorm a list of gifts we already have an are grateful for, such as family, friends, food, home, etc.
  • Make a cookie or cocoa mix-in-a-jar or other homemade gift to give to teachers at church, friends, etc.
Go outdoors
  • Go on a winter hunt looking for signs of winter
  • String a garland with popcorn and cranberries and hang it on the tree outside for the birds
  • Make ornaments from twigs, berries, or other items you find on your winter hunt
  • Build a snowman - if you don't have snow where you live, build one out of playdough!
  • Go ice skating
  • Play with ice treasures  - fill each hole of an ice cube tray with a small button, bead, or prize item. Fill with water and freeze, then use spray bottles or other tools to "excavate" the treasures from the ice
Learn the history behind Christmas traditions
  • Why we put up trees
  • Why we put up wreaths
  • Why we put up stockings and exchange gifts
  • Why we eat candy canes
  • Why we eat gingerbread
  • Why we sing Christmas carols
  • The history of Santa
  • Why we exchange Christmas cards
Other seasonal favorites 
  • Cut paper snowflakes to decorate the windows
  • Make gingerbread men or houses
  • Make homemade cocoa and cider
  • Make a new puzzle together
  • Play a new board game together
  • Watch a new Christmas movie
  • Learn a new Christmas song
  • Read a new Christmas book
  • Attend a Christmas program or event
Here are my favorites sources for new ideas when making a new years' countdown: I pray you enjoy a blessed season with your kiddos! JAMIN RESPONDS: So many great ideas! I can't wait to watch this happen, knowing it's happening! FROM JAMIN: tldr: I Didn't Even Know This Happened Each Year! I knew we had a countdown, but I just thought it was a fun way to keep the kids from pestering us about how many days until Christmas.  I figured the boxes had candy or a little prizes in them. But, as usual, Wendy's been doing this amazing, awesome thing with the kids without needing any input from me.   I'm going to be paying attention this year and hopefully have more input next time around. This is a really cool set of ideas! WENDY RESPONDS: So funny, I didn't realize you didn't know. We will have fun including you this year ;-) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M77YpZkZNbM

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